sidecar_jon

Titanium, hand working

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Hello, i hope i can pick your collective brains. I have made hand hammered bowls from pewter and copper, usually 12" in diameter and with Repoussé and chasing work on the inside. I've not had much luck with retaining any real heat colours for any length of time on copper. I stumbled upon the properties of Titanium, which i'm told retains oxide colour for ever! This is and neat idea for what i do. I have researched the material but opinions seem confused as it's usually used for industrial applications or small in the form of jewellery. Phrases like "it works like Stainless steel" worry me and the process of softening after work hardening too with tails of 450c for 45 mins...Anyone hand worked it? My equipment is hammers, anvil (well a bit of railway track) wooden stump, propane gas torch and i want to make a fairly deep bowl by hand beating, then maybe Reprouse work and flame colour...or am i totally barking up the wrong tree?

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I don't think you will find titanium easy to work with. It does heat patina nicely though. You should get a small piece or two and do a couple of miniature projects to get the feel of it... decide if it works for you and work out the kinks in technique.

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Ti is extremely tough to work cold, but it is very nice to work when hot. My Dad was at the county fair in Napa CA where a smith was forging tent stakes for a circus. He mentioned how nice it worked when hot.

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Just wanted to welcome you to IFI. Lots to learn here.

Mark<>,



thanks there is indeed lots to learn..

I can get a 20"x 28" 26 gage 0.5mm thick on ebay for about £45, but i suspect its to hard to beat into a bowl. I cant really work hot very easily, i don't have a forge just an gas torch. I know im working basic but its all i can afford at present. The natural progression of what i do is to silver, but the price is huge!
I think with your advice i might look out for a titanium bowl (they sell them for camping it seems)and see what i can do with it.. thanks.

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Welcome aboard,
I would say ti works kinda ''nice'' when hot but it is still tough as nails, ss seems like butter in comparison. welding it is anything but nice. you can do a beautiful joint bead, let it cool, then PING, it breaks. I've heard, but never done a welding method were you build a ''tent'' of clear plastic sheet, leaving a hole to access the piece, fill it with argon and weld, then it holds......That's why I've never done it......More info than you need? That's often how it works here.........Not a bad thing.......mb
Never quench it.

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Oh it pays to know more than you need!... The main attraction is the flame colours really and i've not seen any bowls made from it, and there is probably a very good reason for that..

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This ''bowl'' is probably worked a bit more than you had in mind. It started as a 7'' x 1.25'' disc, hammered on edge, then dished . I probably rained more hammer blows down onto this thing than any other small piece I've ever made, but it is forgeable....mb

Also I've heard but never run across ti that makes you sick to your stomach. There's two kinds, alpha and beta or something, and I don't know which is which and it's impossible to tell at a scrap dealer. The fumes given off by one of the two, though not toxic, I think, will make you queasy when heating it..............

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i know all about the hammer blows, i counted two thousand on my latests bowl before i found it too depressing. How does Ti work in relation t metals i know, copper or pewter (i'm ever hopeful)

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I have a friend who's MFA dissertation was on the hand working of Ti.

1: make sure you get the CP grades and not the beta alloys!!!!!!!!!! (I like CP 1 & 2)

2: it can be worked cold; but it takes a lot more WHOMP to move it---if you are using an 8 ounce hammer to move silver or copper you may want a 4 pound hammer to move Ti. This makes for a LOT more wear and tear on your arm!

3: CP grades of Ti work like butter when hot---a good orange---but you can tell when they drop through the the magic zone as your blows suddenly shift from driving deep into a piece to bouncing off it like a superball---and it's still glowing. (Not like steel where it gradually gets harder and harder as it cools but as long as it's glowing you can still hammer it into shape)

4: When hot Ti absorbs N2 from the air becoming very brittle very fast; I've had a number of pieces that required multiple heats that ended up as brittle as glass by the time I was done with them. This is also why the Argon tent trick works (and needs to be on BOTH sides of a piece being welded---hence the tent or box!

5: Ti is a bear to grind/polish

6: you can heat colour it or anodize it for brilliant colours. How long they last I don't know; but I have a Ti camp eating set I forged where the coloured knife blade on it looks the same after about a decade of sporadic use and lots of abuse---dishwasher anyone?---

If you generally charge x for an item I'd suggest you charge 10x+ for the same thing in Ti + materials cost!

Note I'm off on a week long campout and so cannot follow up till around Feb 22

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I've hot hammered ti for 30 years. It hot forges like stainless as you've heard. That means it doesn't push around as easy as other metals, so more heat and heavier blows and it works fine. When it gets too cold to work the hammer will bounce off of it. Color retention is good, plus you get some greens besides the other colors. Also if you polish it up first the colors are more brilliant. You can add colors with either a torch or an anodiser. I should add that all colors are just surface oxidation so even ti's colors can be rubbed off with a scotchbrite or other abrasive. I have 2 youtube videos of forging titanium. Search "forged titanium sword" where I'm hammering clay to show how a piece was done plus you can see the colors on the sword and search "forged titanium knife" to see me actually hammering titanium. Quenching has never been a problem for me either for pure ti or the alloys. When I'm making flint strikers I do quench in water just thinking it will make it harder. Never had a ti piece break. One of the things I love about it is the texture as you see in macbruce's piece. I call it elephant skin. I sell little knives and strikers on etsy. You can buy titanium online at titaniumjoe. It may be better priced than ebay and a big selection of sizes.

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Yeah, that's the other thing, the ''sweet heat'' only lasts a fraction of the time as steel, so hammer fast !
I've had it crack all by It's lonesome too, I just assumed quenching was a bad idea. as quick as it cools, air does it pretty fast....

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Thank you for all the useful advice, and.. i don't think i'm going to do it now. Red hot metal, wooden shed, big hammers, little room, near neighbours, the three pet hens... it all stacks up to be a no go. I'm now wondering if i can use Ti foil to get an effect without the shattered elbows and wrists.

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One of the nice things of working in jewelry sized pieces is that a simple torch is quite adequate and the learning curve can be accelerated greatly. I once worked a lot in jewelry smithing and got the advantage of being able to experiment with many techniques and finishes without a major investment of time or materiel. I did a lot of heat patinas on copper and was able to control them pretty well. I achieved a very wide range of colors from silvery gold to reds browns blues and greens. One useful trick is to finish your surfaces with a dimpled pattern... this leaves a web of raised ridges that help to protect the patinas in the dimples. It also gives a nice scaly look. Regarding heat patinas on copper: it helps to have the work quite clean to begin with, the torch often washes off the colors so many have to be developed at the torch edges or on the opposite side of the metal... sometimes you can heat and then remove the torch to allow the color to develop (yes... tricky... takes skill and experience), finger residues are usually fatal... so handle only with tongs or pliers. I preferred propane/air torches for my heat patinas but really never tried a lot of other options. Finally for the larger canvases of bowls I would have to say that I recommend the magnificent mottled effects that can be achieved with coarse sawdust patinas... like chain saw sawdust soaked in a solution of ammonia, salt and water. You pack the bowl in the damp sawdust for a few days (maybe three or so). It comes out looking like an amphorae recovered from the floor of the Mediterranean!

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Yes i can get colours on copper but they are distinctively fugitive. I usually drew the torch away playing the flame to control the colour halo. I tried plastic coats etc, but they all look and feel very plastic and settled on Renaissance Wax. The copper still goes nut brown but at lest its not covered in plastic.

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After watching Randy's youtube video on it I tried some and really liked it. Got some 1/4"x1" flatbar off ebay (6al-4v) and cut off about a 1" square piece to make this- http://www.etsy.com/listing/67577199/hand-forged-titanium-nut-pick

My first try and was not too difficult, although had some shuts develop during drawing which I ground out. Polished before heating to color, used the roughest compound for stainless and that would barely touch it :o Ran many cycles through the dishwasher after coloring, no change. Thinking about getting some larger hunks to make BBQ tools etc.

thanks much for video Randy!

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I think you quit too easily. Get some titanium and try it first. Even if it's in someone elses shop. I love forging it!

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Today i went on a search for ti bowls in local camping shops they did have some but far too expensive for my experimentation. I will have to get some off the net.

Someone else's shop, round hear your more likely to find horse shoes and iron gates than anything exotic, i think only jewellers use it.

I'm now wondering if i can attach to copper in some way, use it as a foil...

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Well i got some Ti in the shape of a camping bowl. Findings so far are, its fairly hard, pretty thin, but it can be hand beaten cold and moves ok-ish, colours up lovely with heat but....once the blue colour is passed it goes brown, and pretty nasty brown too. I've tried wire wool, scourers, wet and dry paper etc. with little effect at getting rid of the brown so i can re-flame it. I guess any chemical i can get wont touch it...bit thin to use the grinder on too...

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